OXFORD, Miss. (Ole Miss Athletics/WTVA) - Ole Miss trailed Auburn by just four points at halftime, but a lopsided third quarter spelled the Rebels’ fate in a 31-16 defeat at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Saturday.
The score stood at 10-6 after two strong quarters by the Ole Miss (5-3, 1-3 SEC) defense to open the game. However, the Auburn (5-3, 2-3 SEC) offense exploded for 21 points in the third quarter to run away with the victory.
Ole Miss opened with the ball and quickly moved into Auburn territory on its first drive. Luke Logan lined up for his first field goal attempt of the afternoon, but the 40-yarder was blocked, keeping the Rebels off the board early.
Auburn responded with a touchdown drive, using the legs of running back JaTarvious Whitlow (19 attempts, 170 yards, 1 TD) to drive downfield. Jarrett Stidham (13-of-22, 215 yards, 1 TD) then hit Whitlow for a three-yard touchdown to put Auburn on the scoreboard first.
The Rebels came back as Jordan Ta’amu racked up 30 yards on the ground on the following drive to set up a 36-yard Logan field goal. Ta’amu finished 27-of-46 with 324 yards and a touchdown pass.
The Ole Miss defense came up with consecutive three-and-outs late in the first quarter and held strong early in the second, forcing a 47-yard field goal attempt by Anders Carlson that sailed wide right. The Rebel offense took advantage, using a 32-yard connection between Ta’amu and DaMarkus Lodge to set up a 37-yard field goal, cutting the deficit to one at 7-6. Auburn answered with a field goal drive of its own to make the score 10-6, which is where it stood at the half.
Auburn came out of the break and owned the third quarter. The Tigers scored quickly to open the half on a one-yard rush by Malik Miller. The Rebels responded with a 35-yard field goal by Logan. However, the Auburn offense kept coming up with big plays. This time, Whitlow broke free for a 54-yard gain. Jalen Julius knocked the ball loose at the 1-yard line on the explosive run, but Auburn’s Anthony Schwartz recovered in the end zone to make it a 24-9 game.
The Rebels put together a solid drive in response, but stalled out in Auburn territory as Ta’amu was sacked on fourth down. Two plays later, Stidham hit Seth Williams for a 62-yard gain down to the two-yard line. Miller responded with another touchdown run.
The Ole Miss defense regrouped early in the fourth quarter and held the Tigers scoreless. An Auburn 45-yard field goal attempt missed wide right to start the final quarter, allowing the Rebel offense to take over. However, the Rebel drive was stopped at midfield when Ta’amu was sacked on third down by Nick Coe.
The Rebels got the ball back midway through the fourth quarter where A.J. Brown found the end zone after a 15-play, 82-yard drive. A 12-yard touchdown catch gave the receiver his fifth score on the season to go along with his game-high 155 yards. Logan’s extra point made it 31-16.
The defense recorded six tackles for loss, while Benito Jones recorded a sack. Mohamed Sanogo’s 16 tackles registered as the most by a Rebel since Tony Fein tallied 16 vs. Auburn in 2007.
Ole Miss will continue its SEC slate at home after a bye week on Sat., Nov. 3 against South Carolina, with the time and network to be announced.
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